Thursday, May 18, 2017

Let There be Weaponlight - Streamlight TLR-2 HL G and Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro

Let There be Weaponlight - Streamlight TLR-2 HL G and Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro

The biggest weapon lighting trend at this year’s SHOT show was integrated weapon light and laser combos. Streamlight and Crimson Trace both had some of the most well integrated models I saw at the show each with their own unique features.

Previously, I was not a weaponlight kind of guy and really saw these as entry tools for the tactical elite, but my mind has been changed. After getting literally destroyed but a guy a Streamlight TLR-2 equipped airsoft trainer during the Armed Movement in Structures training course by Shivworks, I left convinced that a combo light and laser weaponlight is an undeniable advantage… literally the guy destroyed us round after round. Where the advantage of these lights becomes clearly apparent is when working through clearing or defending very dark areas or in mixes lighting areas.

The light and laser equipped gentleman in question had gone through the Armed Movement in Structures training before and had experienced the same in-training realization that lights and lasers are game changers.  If you are clearing a dark room the light delivers the ability to illuminate those dark areas or areas you think you might have seen something. Creative backlighting and/or use of reflective surfaces with a weaponlight can also help you see hiding silhouettes which were not visible before.

Yes, green lasers are better than red. What you will see is that red lasers wash out easier in light or on darker colors. Green lasers are much higher contrast for the eye, so even during very fast movement on a shooter, you can still stay on target.  As a defender hunkering and bunkering these light/laser give you an option to surprise, identify and engage targets extremely effectively and quickly. There were more than a couple situations where we were surprised to see a green dot on our chest followed by a painful airsoft reminder of our exposure.

Light, Laser or Light and Laser Combo
The idea of a weapon light with laser is not to take the place of a hand held light, but as a tool to help identify, distract, control, disable, sight and engage after a potential threat has been identified. Most people would understand that using a loaded gun as a flashlight is not the best idea when checking on kids in the middle of the night, but neither is firing a gun and holding a flashlight at the same time if you have actually trained on this. A weaponlight takes over where the handheld light leaves off and allows for full weapon control and/or a free hand for opening door or securing a kid.

Both of these lights deliver on these weaponlight capabilities and feature a high output LED light with a high contrast green laser integrated into one unit. Both of these models deliver light only, laser only, laser and light combo and a laser and strobe light settings. On the street the retail price of either of these weapons light ends up around $300. Between these two units the decision really is size and convenience versus brighter longer range power. There are certainly a number of manufacturers offering combo laser light weaponlights, however I liked the execution of these two models the best of all the models I have handled.

Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro - Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro packed a bright 100-lumen LED light and green laser weapon light combo into a super tight small concealable package compatible with any weapon with a picatinny rail. The little LED is far brighter than you would expect and the green laser is plenty bright for daylight use. The Railmaster Pro is literally only a little wider than most weapon mounted compact laser sights with a MSRP of $380. The Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro is about half the size and a third less weight than the full sized Streamlight.

What I really like about this unit is that it is the basically the same size as most compact trigger guard integrated weaponlights, but is in a format that can be easily moved from one handgun or rifle to another. If you have a smaller compact gun like a Glock G26, Walther PPS, HK P30SK or other similar sized compact gun or do not want a giant weapon light hanging off the end of it then this is the right sized weaponlight for your gun. I also really like this for small compact AR15 pistol builds which when mounted at the and of the rail acts likes a handstop. Attachment is via two bolts and a variety of included weapon specific rail adapters.

In a time where we have access to 800+ lumen lights 100-lumen may not seem like a lot or enough, however in reality it is more than enough for movement inside a home or office building, and sufficient for distraction and positive identification of a threat. There are a lot of people who consider anything over 200-lumens too much light for typical defensive room clearing, because an overly bright light can actually blind the use from reflected light off walls. This light fills the requirement for a weapon mounted light which can more than sufficiently identify an attacker from your son slipping into the window at 3AM. 100-lumens is quiet enough to illuminate most standard sized rooms, stairs, and closets when you hear a bump in the night.

The function is really simple and the paddle actuators are about the same size as a full sized light and are hard to miss offering tap on tap off functionality. These large paddles are an important feature of the Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro which is that it feels and operates like a full sized weapon light in a compact size. Often the finger operated buttons on the small trigger guard attached lights/lasers are something you have to think about to use and can be easy to miss with a finger in a tactical situation. More importantly most of these small flat integrated buttons can be literally impossible to use with gloves. The Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro has a giant cannot miss paddle on each side which allows a finger thumb or even a boot heel to activate the light. This is a really unique feature that made this light stand out for me during the review and a feature which clearly stands out when you move the light to an AR15 pistol or SBR.

The Streamlight TLR-2 HL G - The Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is decoded as Tactical Light Rail 2 High Lumen Green Laser. This is considered the beast in the industry with a blinding 800-lumen light with a super bright piercing green laser wrapped in a very durable billet aluminum casing with heavy duty mil-spec polymer parts. The giant full sized Streamlight TLR-2 HL G weaponlight lacks reasonable concealability, but it is a better option as a crossover light that you would move between a pistol and rifle while still delivering the light output needed for rifle use. The downside is that the TLR-2 HL G has an MSRP of $580, but the street price is shockingly similar to the Crimson Trace.

What I really like about the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is that is delivers a level of brightness far beyond what is expected for a light this size. You really do not expect 800-lumens from a light this size which turns night into day… and eyesight into blindness. If you get hit with this light you are not seeing anything until your eyes readjust which gives the owner plenty of time to take a shot or maneuver around you. The huge light output is both a blessing and a curse as there is so much light that in really tight confines or without a lot of attention to when the light is used, reflected light is so bright is can actually blind the user.  On the other side of the argument, you can hit any area of a room and light up every corner of the room with all that output. One of my friends note the green laser was sole piecing and it is crazy daylight bright. For those situations where you might reach out a bit further or even use this light for predator control, the brilliantly bright LED and laser in the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is a huge benefit.  If you want to add a pressure switch, the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G is equipped with a remote-pressure switch port. Like most full-sized weapon lights, the Streamlight TLR-2 HL G offers an adjustable quick release style screw, but can allow the light to be attached or removed quickly.

One of the features I liked the most about this particular weapon light was that it allowed direct access to all the settings without going through a menu thanks to the lower toggle switch. The lower mini toggle can be easily changed on the fly from light only, laser only to both laser and light. The actuation paddles pivot up and down to activate momentary or constant on operation of whatever mode is selected. Double tapping the momentary switch accesses the strobe function. It is one of the most intuitive weapon lights I have found.

Of note, both Streamlight and Crimson Trace offer a wide array of mighty fine full-sized and compact-sized light and laser weapon lights however I personally liked the operation these specific models the best. It really came down to the ease of operation and use. Neither of these are cheap weapon lights, but they are a tool you can depend on with your life. Let me tell you first hand, you can die fast in the dark without one of these lights.

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The Rail Master Pro™ Universal Green Laser Sight & Tactical Light combines two tactical tools in a single compact unit. The versatile unit is designed to fit most modern pistols, rifles and shotguns with an M1913 Picatinny or Weaver-style accessory rail. A powerful green laser anchors the unit and provides up to 1 hour of continuous use on a single CR2 Lithium battery. The Rail Master Pro also includes a powerful 100 Lumen white light for target identification. The unit features four operational modes including: Laser/Light Constant On, Laser Constant On, Light Constant On, and Laser w/Light Dazzler. Activation is instant, with Tap On, Tap Off controls and a programmed Auto Shut Off at five minutes to conserve battery life.

Attachment Accessory Rail
Activation Mode Switch Activated - Light only, laser only, or both
Sighting Factory Sighted at 50' - (Re-zeroable)
Battery Type CR2 Lithium Battery X1
Laser Output Up to 5mW Green Laser
Activation Mode Switch Activated
Laser Visibility Approx .5 Inch Diameter at 50 Feet
User Adjustable Windage and Elevation
Installation User Installed
Warranty Three Year Full Warranty
Color Black
Dot Size Approx. 0.50" at 50'
Light Output 100 Lumen LED White Light
Light Specs 100 Lumen LED
Weight 2.5 ounce including battery
Size 2.25 L x 1.3 W x 1.4D inches
MSPR $380

LED and Green Laser combo tactical light.
Engineered optic produces a concentrated beam with optimum peripheral illumination
Green laser provides high-visibility long-range targeting

Laser 510-530nm direct drive green laser
Light C4® LED technology, 50,000 hour lifetime, Impervious to shock
Lumens 800.00
Candela 15000
Range of Light 245 meters
Runtime 1.50 hours
Battery Styles Non-Rechargeable
Battery CR123A Lithium X2
Length 3.390 inches (8.61 centimeters)
Weight 4.780 ounces (135.51 grams)
Colors Black
Attachment Accessory Rail
Activation Mode Switch Activated - Light only, laser only, or both
Sighting Factory Sighted at 50' - (Re-zeroable)
MSRP $580

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